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Drawing Mayor’s Rebuke, Palm Coast Manager’s Trash Talk Skips Agenda Notice

| October 26, 2011


The Palm Coast City Council agenda had looked slight Tuesday, but deceptively so, and on many levels. City Manager Jim Landon was holding back several items he did not place on the agenda, a tactic he often uses. He’s a controlling manager down to his handling of the council, this time drawing a sharp rebuke from Mayor Jon Netts.

One of the items Landon was holding off the agenda was an entire presentation on one of the most expensive, controversial and political issues before the city council this year: the renewal of its trash contract, which costs residents about $7 million a year—and yields the city a half-million profit.

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The city’s 5-year contract with Waste Pro is expiring. Landon wasn’t interested in re-bidding the contract. He wanted to negotiate a 5-year extension with Waste Pro, exercising a provision of the existing contract. But a lot has changed in the trash industry in the past five years. Re-bidding might lower the trash contract and save residents money at a time when residents are clamoring for savings from government fees and taxes. After Landon attempted to skip the bidding process, a mounting public outcry that council members clearly heard forced him to backtrack and agree to a request for proposal.

On Tuesday, toward the end of a meeting well into its third hour, Landon sprang the RFP presentation on the council—what the RFP would entail, what restrictions would be in place, assuming council members would agree. The presentation included a powerpoint. In other words, it could very well have been itemized on the agenda, giving council members and the public, if not trash haulers, advance notice of what Landon intended to talk about.

There was likely another reason Landon didn’t put the item on the agenda: it might have drawn a protest from future council members who, for now, may have no say in the decision. Two seats on the council will be decided in less than two weeks. One of the seats will certainly turn over: Mary DiStefano is term-limited, and will be replaced wither by Jason DeLorenzo or Dennis Cross. Incumbent Holsey Moorman is in a tough fight against challenger Bill McGuire.

Landon could have waited until after the election before bringing up talk of the trash contract, given its size and consequences. All three candidates challenging for the two seats have made government savings a big part of their campaign. They would almost certainly have had a different imprint on the nature of the RFP were they to have a say in its make-up.

Landon’s maneuver on Tuesday ensured they won’t, essentially circumventing the voices of potentially two council candidates who will nevertheless have to vote on a new trash contract for the next five years, come January—without having had a say on the contract’s nuts and bolts.

When Landon broached the subject, his latest in a series he’d failed to include on the agenda Tuesday, Netts interrupted.

jon netts palm coast mayor city council

Jon Netts. (© FlaglerLive)

“I would appreciate in the future that these be agendaed, so I can plan,” Netts said.

“Um, OK. The, um—next slide,” Landon responded, surprised.

Half-way through the manager’s presentation, Landon was surprised again.

“Mr. Meeker, I’m going to have to leave,” Netts said, sounding annoyed and without addressing the manager as he passed the gavel to the vice mayor.

“Mayor, I’ve got one more real quick one, one more,” Landon pleaded.

“Doesn’t matter, I’m going to have to leave,” Netts shot back. And he left.

So the direction Landon got on preparing the $7 million-a-year RFP was provided by a council of four members, one of whom—possibly two of whom—will be gone by next month.

Judging from Landon’s presentation, the RFP is designed to give Waste Pro an overwhelming advantage while virtually all but disqualifying certain competitors.

For example, Landon is ruling out one-person, automated crews for regular trash pick-up. Yet many local governments and trash hauling companies, using new technology, have found big savings in one-person, automated crews running regular pick up on one day a week. One of those is Republic Services, one of the nation’s top three trash haulers, and one of the interested bidders in Palm Coast. Republic officials have complained about palm Coast’s process going back to Landon’s attempt to prevent them from bidding. They are likely to complain again about the RFP’s specifics, as their advantage is dismissed outright. Landon said he was proceeding on the council’s direction. But the council had never vetoed one-person crews, even as some of its members—clearly, not a recorded majority—spoke against the 96-gallon trash bins that would be part of an automated system.

“I was under the impression we were going to seek one day as an alternative,” Netts said during the first half of the presentation, when he was still there.

“OK, but that’s alternative,” Landon said. “I will tell you that there are bidders out there that will bid an automated system even with this. Now, what we’re going to do is, you won’t even see that. We will reject it, because it was not responsive, because if you allow them to go through the process—”

“Then you’re going to get your bid protest,” Netts says.

“It’s not fair to the others who’ll say wow, you said we couldn’t throw that in, so we’re not even going to consider it.”

mary distefano palm coast city council

Mary DiStefano. (© FlaglerLive)

“Why do we dictate two-man crew? Why can’t they make that decision?” DiStefano asked.

“If you’re going to do our current system where they have trash cans that they dump in there,” Landon said, “you have to have one in the back and one driving. And see, the automated system is a one-man crew.”

Those restrictions will rule out innovators and favor Waste Pro while most likely keeping prices where they’ve been. Keep in mind that the city has no incentive to lower the price of the contract any more than the haulers do. The city skims off 7 percent of the value of the contract, generating that $500,000 a year for its coffers. Most of that money goes to the general fund, helping to offset declining tax revenue, even though it is, in essence a tax, since all residents pay trash fees. If the city were to secure a $6 million contract instead of a $7 million contract, its own revenue would fall by $80,000. If anything, the city’s incentive is to have a more expensive contract. That’s one of the reasons the administration has been working hard to stick with Waste Pro and the existing contract’s structure.

The RFP will allow for 65-gallon recycling bins, and will call for “single-stream” recycling, doing away with residents’ need to separate paper and plastic.

But the RFP, which will rank bidding companies on a 100-point scale according to five criteria, in another transparent give-away to Waste Pro, will also give 10 of those points for “local experience.”

“Local experience, there’s only one person that has that,” council member Bill Lewis said, referring to Waste Pro.

“You might be able to give Waste Management some, they’ve been here in the past too,” Landon said. Other council members raised no objections to the point system.

Landon also stressed that trash haulers were not allowed to lobby council members. “We think we will have a problem on this one,” Landon said. “What’s not fair is for one of them not to do their lobbying, tell you why you need to do this or that, because the bid or the request for proposal says they can’t because they follow the rules, and someone else does contact you.” Landon told council members he wanted to be informed should they receive solicitations from trash haulers, as that would disqualify the haulers from the RFP.

Landon is going a step further, as he did when he initially gathered interest from haulers before the bid approach was formalized: he is preventing the trash haulers from making any presentations directly to the council members. That’s highly unusual, as other local governments, while they may object to being lobbied outside of meetings, generally welcome direct contact in public meeting for elected officials themselves to be informed and ask questions, and for the public to be privy to the selection process.

Trash haulers bidding for the Palm Coast contract, and the public paying for it, will be denied that degree of fairness and transparency, leaving it to Landon to decide which haulers make the cut and which don’t. The process, in sum, appears to be a Request for Proposal in name only.

Palm Coast Trash Haulers RFP Outline, 2011

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23 Responses for “Drawing Mayor’s Rebuke, Palm Coast Manager’s Trash Talk Skips Agenda Notice”

  1. Kip Durocher says:

    As Anon posted above it is bid rigging.

    All it would take is a complaint from a property owner or tenant who has paid pick up fees to the city.

    Be the first one on your block to file a formal complaint.

    R.J. Larizza, State Attorney
    The Justice Center
    251 North Ridgewood Avenue
    Daytona Beach, Florida 32114-7505
    (386) 239-7710


  2. dealingwithidiots1 says:

    Mr. Landon….we all know you read these posts…how about responding and setting the record straight?


  3. Dudley Doright says:

    First, I am shocked that Mayor Netts found “a set” and stood up to Landon for a second or two. Hopefully, Holsey “the sleeper” will be voted out and maybe…just maybe the new council members will nutt up and send Landon packing. I think Landon and Waste Pro are much to comfortable. Landon, what’s next? Your sneaky plan for the city hall?


  4. captainsniz says:

    Landon pulls shady stuff like this on a regular basis. He knows the GAME and knows how to work the system. The sad thing is he always gets away with these moves and keeps his position.

    I see Wingo finally got charged with ethics violations. About time. She was another operator.


  5. PJ says:

    Lazy Landon once again pulling big city stuff on or be-loved council. I’m glad to see The MAYOR acting like one. However I’m suspect since the last round of lies that come out of landons leadership. He makes me sick that he can even put out a RFP without weighing the scale the way he wants too with anything he (landon) wants to do here. Hey man go back to TEXAS where you can pull that stuff over the heads of them folk out there. You time is slowly ticking down. You do not and should not get a renewed contract as City Manager.

    Now llets get the facts straight to some of you commentors:

    This is one of the first times that you are SO WRONG.
    Why is it so wrong to save money? One man crews, so what!! Big garbage cans for free, Why not!! one recycle can no brainer!!

    As far as un-improved roads not suitable for the automated system? Hhere is where many people don’t know how well it works.

    Just an example of how it does work is right here in our own back yards, yes right here in Flagler county, Florida and look no further.

    BUNNELL yes that’s right I said it BUNNELL. Where a one man crew runs everyday. Just like us three days of service. Just smarter imagine that ha BUNNELL or LOL BUNNELL. Best of all they do it themselves. They even do the commerical businesses. By the way with the same truck. I can tell you this just call overthere the residents like the service. My family lives there and they said it was a change. Well what they meant was they had to start to put yard waste out on monday now wow what a change. (I’ll be the first to say it my family may not see a good thing up front)

    I do my yard waste on the weekend why have it out for three days. Monday pickup pretty simple. Bunnell has the 96 gallon garbage cans and my aunt has a smaller garbage can like 33 gallons supplied to the handicap or seniors supplied by the city at no charge.

    Don’t Palm Coast have an expensive consultant they check with that would cover these things in the RFP? They do but he seems they are just as lazy as Landon and like their fat check as well.

    The automated system works so please don’t compare to AZ waste becuse it works right here in Florida. Stop spreading incorrect information.

    We can save money why not? By the way why would not the drivers and helpers from waste pro not want to work for the new contractor if that is the way it goes?

    Don’t be so naive to worry about these workers. Where do think wasre pro got their crew from the company that lost the last contract.

    Palmcoaster your alway so informed how about sticking to the plan. Get them to put out a real RFP. That’s the issue. The other issue is a City Manager is very under-heavy-handed guy. This is the real other issue. He is wrong for Palm Coast and really does nothing for us.

    OH yea one last thing thanks for the dog and pony show at the last meeting you (Landon) scriped the board so well. They even now leave the meeting on que. Mayor please stage right!!!!

    Anyone else on the board to stage right? Oh that’s right Landon did not give you your que………………


  6. johnc says:

    Landon is slick, he needs to go. One week pick-up from nov april, twice weekly april – nov. One man crew ideal, waste pro does have full time employees, they get the labor from day laboerers. They don’t have to pay insurance benefits. Plus Waste Pro contract stated that they dump at Volusia county landfill, they don’t , they dump at ormond beach. Then slap us with a fuel increase adjustment. They are going half the distance and charging us for more!!! I have strorm debris still at the edge of the road waiting to be picked up. Driver and helper just drive by on Weds. Lazy pos! I think it should be pay by the bag like a lot of other communities, how much is Palm Coast receiving from Waste mgt. on recycling? Usally cities and towns get refunds for sending recycling. My wife and I do not produce a lot of trash why should we pay the same as a large family who produces more? The larger families should pay more. I call it ” Pay as you go” sound familiar? But we the taxpayers will get screwed by the Jack Ass City Mgr. with his own agenda. He is a “Legend in his own mind” I qoute clint eastwood on that one.


  7. Layla says:

    Now we have a new fly in the ointment to consider……a candidate taking money from Waste Pro. I will be at the Council meeting tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 1 @ 6:30pm to see what they have to say about that and I hope others will attend as well.

    This is a contract worth millions. Maybe it’s time to take Waste Pro out of the competition or turn this over to the state’s attorney for investigation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust these guys, not after one of them is taking money.

    This is a lot bigger than an overpaid manager.


  8. Layla says:

    Went to the council meeting. Nothing on the agenda, no DeLorenzo who is always there, no reporters there either, which they usually are. It was as if the place had been scrubbed. Then a woman got up and asked about DeLorenzo, an ethics complaint and how would it affect the bidding on the contract for Waste Pro. I thought I heard the city attorney say it could go to the ethics committee and not be handled by the council, but it was a serious breach. And that was it. Fastest council meeting on record and not much said…almost intentionally. Was I the only one sensing that? Was something else going on tonight? Nobody there, none of the usuals.


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